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Why Aren't Engineering Students Happier? Because It's Hard

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William K.
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Platinum
Re: Happiness at WORK!
William K.   8/31/2012 9:53:36 PM
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I did find my final two years of engineering school, (Lawrence Institute of Technology) to require a lot of effort. That is a bit different than hard, but it meant that a great deal of attention was required, and a fair amount of effort as well. Nothing was handed out without working for it.

That school no longer exists, it has become a technical university and it offrers an MBA,which seems to have been the first advanced degree they offered. Now they have state-of-the-art laboratory equipment as well. JUst like any university.

And the tuition costs 72 times as much as when I started there. I could not afford to attend that school today, and, amazingly enough, if I did, my education might not prepare me as well for any of the jobs that I have had since graduating.

But was I happy while attending classes? Yes, or at least, not terribly unhappy. I simply didn't have much time for a lot of anything besides school, no time at all to be bored. It seems that much of the unhappiness does come from boredom of one kind or another, which is probably the result of unrealistic expectations. One other thing is that I did not find any of it "competitive", such as those law school students seem to suffer so terribly from the competition. I felt none of that at all.

gsmith120
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Happiness at WORK!
gsmith120   8/31/2012 2:38:27 PM
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Keith I agree people who enjoy engineering so go into that profession.  It is unfortunate that I had so many class mates taking engineering because someone else selected it for them or because saying I'm an engineer sounded better than what they were really interested in doing.  Personally, I don't think engineering was that difficult (graduated with honors) challenging and exciting yes.  It would have been an entirely different story if English was my major, probably wouldn't have graduated. 

Tim
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Hard work can be fun, but mostly, it's just hard work.
Tim   8/31/2012 1:17:35 PM
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Underwater basket weaving is a noteworthy degree, but it is similar to a friend of mine that majored in Ancient Greek and minored in Russian. He is now working as an insurance salesman in Iowa. I am pretty sure that his Greek and Russian are really helping. While I had a good time as an engineering student at Penn State, he was definitely happier with less stress and more pleasant company than I had.

dbull
User Rank
Iron
Re: The world view.
dbull   8/31/2012 7:45:45 AM
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Bill,

I will definitely go to altenergy and read your articles. Also, I hope you had a chance to do some mentoring in your career. I think you'd be a great one. I had two good mentors but none were engineers. As far as Lutz I find him pretty fascinating. I notice he's a marketing guy. We need to train engineers to be like Lutz. Either that or convince guys like him to team up with engineers more equally. Either way will work.

"Some idiots managed to get in charge at times". This happens too often these days.


As far as car platforms I'm not demeaning the Volt platform. I just find the all electric range of the Tesla to be more exciting. Even if it's not as practical in some ways because of the time it takes to charge vs. the dual nature of the Volt. As far as batteries, I don't know enough about the volt battery treatment. I do like that Musk kept it simple basically using laptop batteries. And then designing a great temp management system. I believe strongly in keeping it simple. I'm not sure what Volt did about temperature management of the batteries but I hear that some new batteries in development might not need that.

If I was to vote for the overall best car for balancing fuel economy, ride, luxury and price would be the Ford MKZ Hybrid. I saw them going for $33K the other day, you get fuel economy in the low 40's and it's a true luxury car.

Let me know if you'd be interested in doing some mentoring.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Engineering Schools
Dave Palmer   8/30/2012 7:03:22 PM
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It's good to see other IIT alumni here.  We've moved up and down in the list of "least happy students"; this year we're number eight and last year we were number nine, but when I was a student, we were number six.  So maybe the $48 million dollar student center paid off... or maybe everyone's just happy that I'm not around anymore!

Seriously, college was one of the most enjoyable times of my life.  Sure, I worked hard; in fact, I worked full-time and went to school full-time, and did most of my homework on the El on the way to and from work.  But I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

The purpose of school is to learn; you should go to school if you enjoy challenging yourself and learning new things.  If you just want to go to parties, drink, hook up, etc., why bother wasting money on tuition?

wbswenberg
User Rank
Gold
What academia wants.
wbswenberg   8/30/2012 5:00:13 PM
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Academic wants you to work your butt off for that BS.  I took 6 years.  I did all my own work, no study group.  Either I figured it out or I didn't.  What a hard head.  I just could not rely on any one.  My Dad asked me several times if I was not studing too hard and staying up too late.  I had to repeat a couple of classes but I got it and did the job myself.  I just wish I could have planned on 6 years and taken a lighter load so I could understand better and sooner.  I went back to community college when I was out of work.  My 1st test in statistics I got so low of score it was not measurable.  So then I when back over the tests.  I had forgoten it takes me five times through the calculations to produce two correct answers.  I cant seem to hit the right buttons.  Ya, you got it, dyslexia.  Or hand eye condination.  Turned out I could not see because of a cataract, this time.  Down to one eye.  I had honor scores after that. 

Keith Harris
User Rank
Iron
Happiness at WORK!
Keith Harris   8/30/2012 3:05:46 PM
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Ann, thanks for mentioning Georgia Tech.  I grew up in Atlanta suburbs, got a BSEE in 1975, MSEE in 1981, and worked at the Experiment Station from 1976 to 1983 (while they paid for my MS).

I've told my kids (grown now), to find a job that they enjoy, in preference to dull work that pays well.  My own career has worked out that way, though I admit, the pay has kept up as well.  I was asked by my company's CEO when I plan to retire.  My answer was "I don't plan to."  For about 37 years I have been fortunate to have creative, design oriented work at five different companies.  The creative aspect of engineering is rarely understood by outsiders, and there are many people with engineering degrees which act as glorified clerks.  I think the difference for me began in elementary school, with science projects, inspiration from the space program, and maybe even 'working on' an old alarm clock when I was little.

It seems to me a good thing that the engineering profession be populated with people who enjoy its creative aspect, and recognise and appreciate good, elegant design.

dbull
User Rank
Iron
Re: The world view.
dbull   8/30/2012 2:53:19 PM
NO RATINGS

Bill,

You obviously have a lot to add to this discussion but you did wander a bit. But that's okay I tend to do that also. It would be fun to sit and talk to you for a while as you obviously have had a lot of experiences. I disagree that it (student happiness) depends on the environment. I think it is what you make it.

I wanted to be in car design also. I remember when I was excited about my interview at Ford. But when I got there I realized it wasn't for me. I became an engineer because I was fascinated with alternate energy sources, namely fuel cells that I first heard about during the space program years. I only recently got to get involved in that industry. My point here is that I had very little contact with engineers in it for the money. Those few that showed up as freshmen did not last.

As far as the Volt, while I think the design is clever, I'm not so sure it is leading the way. It's not solely a partisan issue either. Having driven a Tesla and watching the buzz they are creating I think they are leading the way in more ways than one. I'd take a Tesla S over a Volt any day. What's my story here? We have too much mediocrity, too many things are made to be good enough. Whether a government bureauracy or a corporate one innovation is being stifled more than ever before. So we don't just need good engineers we need good engineers that can think and communicate and get into positions of power where they do the good they ought to be doing.

OldRadioNut
User Rank
Iron
Re: because it's all books and no hands-on?
OldRadioNut   8/30/2012 2:23:21 PM
@williamlweaver  - I like it.  I wonder about the affordability (at the middle - high school levels) and will definitely look into it further. 

I think you help make my point - many of us enginneers got into the field not out of a love of math and science alone, but out of a love of the creative process supporting the scientific method (and being blessed with curious, mathy/sciency minds to get us through the classroom part of the educaiton.) Anything that can bring the practical, hands-on, creative processes closer to the classroom work merits consideration.

williamlweaver
User Rank
Platinum
Re: because it's all books and no hands-on?
williamlweaver   8/30/2012 1:17:25 PM
NO RATINGS
@OldRadioNut I know this feels like direct advertising, but since National Instruments a current advertiser of design news and a popular vendor in engineering, I figure its OK to point out that NI miniSystems to get applied systems into education are really very innovative. They recently produced a video showcasing the technology that allows engineering students to "use what they learn".
 
Really cool idea that takes advantage of existing technology.


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